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“Impact on mental health:” Bombay High Court granted liberty to a victim of domestic violence to terminate her 23-week-old pregnancy.

The Bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Madhav J Jamdar held that “declining permission to the petitioner will tantamount her to continue with her pregnancy which in the circumstances will not only become extremely burdensome and oppressive on her but has the potential to cause grave injury to her mental health”.

Socio Legal Corp

By- Aishwarya.

The Bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Madhav J Jamdar held that “declining permission to the petitioner will tantamount her to continue with her pregnancy which in the circumstances will not only become extremely burdensome and oppressive on her but has the potential to cause grave injury to her mental health”.

The facts to the case state that the petitioner was subjected to domestic violence by her husband. She had filed complaints before the competent Magistrate and she was also in the process of filing petition for dissolution of marriage by decree of divorce. The event the child is born, the petitioner would not receive financial and emotional support of her husband.

A medical board, which was constituted to examine her mental capacity to proceed with the pregnancy, submitted in its report that “petitioner has suffered mental distress due to marital discord”. 

After careful perusal of the opinion of the Board, the Court examined the relevant provision of the Act – Section 3(2)(b)(i), provides that pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks can be terminated if two registered medical practitioners form an opinion that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health.

The High Court noted that the word used in the provision is ‘mental health’ and not ‘mental illness’. Hence, the court needs to examine, whether continuance of the pregnancy would lead to grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman? 

Considering the aforesaid, the High Court granted permission to terminate the pregnancy at Dr RN Cooper Hospital, Mumbai without any further loss of time.

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